Role of Northern Europe in Countering Russian Aggression
In the spring of this year, the military-political map of the world changed significantly. On 4 April 2023, the day of the 74th anniversary of the creation of NATO, a significant event took place, which marks the beginning of tectonic shifts in world geopolitics and the recent history of the northern region of Europe. Finland officially became the 31st member state of the Alliance. The solemn ceremony took place in Brussels, where the Finnish flag appeared.
This was a significant blow to the foreign policy of the Russian Federation, which was based on reaching agreement with NATO on non-interference in the aggressive plans of the Kremlin. However, everything turned out the other way around: due to the full-scale war against Ukraine, the NATOization of Finland took place instead of the Finlandization of NATO. And the Alliance came close to the borders of the Russian Federation, realizing the Kremlin's greatest fear.
Sweden is also interested in joining NATO and is, most likely, the next candidate for a member state. When this happens, the balance of power in the Baltic and Scandinavian region will finally shift in favour of the Alliance. If Sweden joins NATO, the country will become an important partner for the Alliance in maintaining security and stability in the region.
Military and Technical Support by Northern Europe Countries
The scope of aid provided to Ukraine by Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Iceland from almost the first day of the full-scale aggression of the Russian Federation to Ukraine indicates systematic support by governments of these countries.
For example, the total cost of aid provided to Ukraine by Finland will amount to about EUR 1.3 billion. During the recent visit to Ukraine, Prime Minister of Finland Petteri Orpo announced the next, 18th package of defence support totalling EUR 94 million, which envisages the provision of heavy weapons and ammunition.
In July of this year, Norway decided to increase the size of the military aid fund for Ukraine from NOK 2.5 billion (USD 240 million) to NOK 10 billion (almost USD 930 million) for 2023. In addition to that, Norwegian Defence Minister Bjorn Arild Gram announced that Norway would provide 1,000 small Black Hornet reconnaissance UAVs for the Ukrainian army. The cost of this initial delivery is estimated at approximately NOK 90 million (USD 9.3 million). On the same day, the Norwegian Defence Press Service announced that Ukraine would receive two more NASAMS air defence systems.
Norwegian media reported that a decision was approved to provide Ukraine with F-16 light multi-purpose fighter jets during the visit of Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gar Store to Kyiv, where he met President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky. Norway will become the third country after the Netherlands and Denmark to announce similar decisions regarding F-16 aircraft. The Norwegian government also agreed to transfer demining equipment to Ukraine. In particular, we will be given portable kits for the disposal of explosive objects and technical explosive charges. The assistance program is financed from the Nensen fund and is designed for five years. The budget of the program is almost 7 billion euros.
For its part, the Danish government is ready to provide a package of military aid to Ukraine worth NOK 1.3 billion (over EUR 170 million). The package will include: anti-aircraft missiles, demining vehicles and funds for the purchase of artillery ammunition to support the Ukrainian liberation struggle. In addition to that, Denmark, together with the Netherlands, will provide Ukraine with F-16 fighters for free. Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said her country would provide 19 aircraft. The Danish Ministry of Defence stated that it agrees to transfer fighters in close cooperation with the US and other partners, when the conditions for such a transfer are met. In particular, a coalition of 11 countries will begin training Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16 fighters in August 2023 in Denmark, as it is Denmark and the Netherlands that are leading the international effort to train pilots as well as support personnel, maintain the aircraft, and ultimately ensure the supply of F-16s to Ukraine during its war with Russia.
The Parliament of Sweden has recently adopted a decision to increase military aid to Ukraine. Thus, the government was entitled to transfer to Ukraine military equipment and spare parts for it in the amount of up to SEK 1.1 billion, as well as ammunition and components for ammunition, mines and demining equipment, vehicles in the amount of SEK 2.15 billion. In addition to that, the Swedish parliament decided to give the government the opportunity to sell a limited number of Rb 99 type (AMRAAM) air-to-air missiles to the United States for further transferring to Ukraine in order to strengthen Ukrainian air defence.
In May this year, the government of Iceland promptly responded to Ukraine's request to increase fuel transportation capacity by purchasing ten fuel tankers for the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
Advanced geopolitics of the Northern region
Countries of Northern Europe were among the most active in supporting Ukraine. The geopolitical concept of rapid response and containment of the Russian threat from London to Ankara, together with Northern Europe, actually has shown its effectiveness.
Accordingly, Finland's membership in NATO is just the beginning of the history of the Alliance's expansion to the north of Europe. It will continue, in particular, in closer bilateral ties on military cooperation between the new members of the Alliance and its candidate countries with the United States.
Since the beginning of the year, Finnish and US officials have made statements regarding the start of negotiations on the placement of US military bases in Finland. Similar negotiations are also underway with Sweden and Denmark.
Let me remind you that less than a year before the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation to Ukraine, namely in April 2021, the United States and the Kingdom of Norway concluded a Supplementary Defence Cooperation Agreement (SDCA). The SDCA describes the legal status of US military forces in Norway and authorizes US military forces to access certain Norwegian facilities and carry out mutual defence actions. Similar bilateral agreements are an additional guarantee of effective countering the Russian military threat for the members of the Alliance.
Therefore, cooperation with the countries of Northern Europe, in particular with Finland and Sweden, is important for Ukraine, as these countries are our partners in maintaining security and stability in the region, as well as in preparing Ukraine for joining NATO.
Ukraine is ready for cooperation and will do everything possible to strengthen relations with the countries of Northern Europe.